Torquato Tasso, Aminta
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
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Tasso composed the Aminta in Ferrara in March, April, and May of 1573.1 It was presented on the evening of July 31 of that year on Isle Belvedere del Po by the famous Gelosi Company. Although we lack accounts of that performance, it was apparently well received, as a second performance, for Lucrezia d'Este, was given during Carnival of the following year. Sozzi notes a third performance on May 1, 1581, in Verona, and frequent presentations thereafter in various cities.2
The first printing of the Aminta was by Aldo Manuzio in Venice in January of 1581, some seven years after its composition. Although Tasso had been in contact with Manuzio concerning publication, this printing was without his permission.3 Tasso's desire to revise his works constantly and his neurotic fears of being used by his friends probably account for both the slowness in bringing the work to press and his unwillingness to consent to its printing. Sozzi, along with a number of other critics, suggests that this edition precedes the Draconi edition, published in Cremona in 1581, but having a dedication dated December 15, 1580, five days before the dedication date of the Aldine edition. Aldo issued a second, corrected edition later in 1581, and other editions followed in 1583, 1589, and 1590.4 The 1590 edition is the basis for subsequent critical editions of the Aminta. One of the difficulties in establishing a definitive text has been the lack of an authoritative manuscript; of the nine significant manuscripts available, none is an autograph manuscript.5 The standard edition, and the basis for this translation, is by Sozzi (Padua, 1957).
The Aminta was as popular abroad as it was in the various cities of Italy. The work was printed in Paris in 1584 and translated into French that same year. On June 6, 1591, the pastoral was printed by Wolfe in London. The year 1591 also saw its first translation into English, by Abraham Fraunce in The Countesse of Pembrokes Yvychurch, printed in London by Thomas Orwyn. This work contained both a translation of Tasso's Aminta and Fraunce's earlier published English translation (1587) of Thomas Watson's Amyntas (1585), a pastoral in eleven Latin eclogues perhaps suggested by the Aminta, but not a translation of it.6 Following Fraunce's work, the next translation, and one of the best, was by Henry Reynolds, published anonymously in 1628. There followed two other seventeenth century renderings, one by John Dancer in 1660 and the other by John Oldmixon in 1698. The eighteenth century saw translations by P. B. du Bois (1726), by an anonymous translator (1731), by William Ayre (1737), and by Percival Stockdale (1770). The waning popularity of the pastoral genre (in inverse proportion to Tasso's rise in popularity of the pastoral romantic hero) was indicated in the fact that but one translation appeared in the nineteenth century, by Leigh Hunt in 1820. In the twentieth Century, translations by Frederic Whitmore (1900), Ernest Grillo (1924), and Louis E. Lord (1931) have appeared.
The effects of English Literature of this often translated work have been quite broad. W. W. Greg, for example, contends that the great majority of English pastorals of the first half of the seventeenth century are influenced by the Aminta.7 While such a statement cannot be proved or disproved absolutely, there are several more or less direct reworkings of the play, such as Fletcher's The Faithful Shepherdesse (c. 1609), Daniel's The Queenes Arcadia (1605) and Hymen's Triumph (1614), and Jonson's The Sad Shepherd (1637). Beyond these specific works, however, there is a broad area of general influence extending to style, sentiment, imagery, and diction. Parallels to the Aminta may be found in the works of Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, and many other writers' productions. As a pastoral, the Aminta is not unique, but as one of the best works within the genre, its influence is pervasive.
Just as the Aminta came to represent the pastoral tradition, so too the play depends heavily upon the tradition of the pastoral in Latin and Italian writers. Many of the images and lines are directly attributable to Virgil's Eclogues and, to a lesser extent, his Georgics, to Ovid, and to a number of other writers. In both Virgil and Ovid may be found the controlling theses of the play: the idea of the Golden Age and the Conception of love as a driving, overpowering force operating throughout nature. Closer to his time, Tasso was able to look to a well-established tradition extending from Sanazzaro's Arcadia (1504), through various pastoral dramas, such as Tansillo's Due Pellegrini (1538), Cintio's Egle (1545), and Beccari's Sacrifizio (1555).
The fact that Tasso draws heavily upon earlier sources does not mean that he Aminta is merely derivative. Rather, from his many sources, in particular the eclogue, the comedy, and the tragedy, Tasso has created what C. P. Brand terms a "hybrid" form which assimilates there different types and rises above them.9 Tasso's poem is not imitative, but perfective; he brings to completion and unity a number of strands that were available to him. As Sozzi says, we find "now levity, now grave substance; now elegy, now idyll; now ingenuousness and innocence, now artifice and cunning; now nature, now the court; now sane and frank realism, now a game of fantasy and tone of fable and fairy tale; now poetry and now literature." Tragedy is never far from comedy, laughter is always close to tears. All of these elements, all the characters in this tale of the woods, are bond in place by Tasso's lyrical poetry and lyrical sentimentality.
The pastori and ninfe who inhabit this world are in many ways figures who are traditional and recognizable. The first act opens with the attempt by the wise and experienced Dafne to convince the youthful, chaste, proud virgin, Silvia, of the delights of love. The second scene mirrors the first, but here we are introduced to the lovesick shepherd, Aminta, being counseled by his judicious companion, Tirsi, wise with age (he is 29). This act is closed by the well known Golden Age Chorus, which invokes natural love as opposed to the modern, stifling laws of Honor. As well as closing each act, the Chorus of
Shepherds serves as a character in the play, and performs the same functions as the other minor figures, Elpino, Nerina, and Ergasto, to draw forth, by questions, the narrative from the main characters and, at times, to describe the action. The play itself is primarily narrative rather than dramatic; the important actions take place off stage and are reported, often in long monologues. Monologues also provide impetus to events in the play, such as soliloquy of the Satyr beginning Act II, which gives movement to one of the central actions of the play, Aminta's rescue of Silvia. The subsequent action, the false death of Silvia and the false death of Aminta, followed by the uniting of the lovers, is a convenient vehicle for exploring the different and changing emotional states of the characters. Between the acts are four short intermedi; these later additions to the play comment in a general way upon the nature of love. The play as a whole is framed by the Prologue, spoken by the comic figure of Love, and the Epilogue of his mother, Venus.
Introduced by Love, the Aminta is essentially a play about love, or, perhaps, about lovers and the effects that love has on them. As a number of commentators have pointed out, here all forms of love abound, from the sacred to the profane, from youthful joy to adult disillusionment, from longing to fulfillment. The characters do not act as "real people" usually act; they do not even act as lovers really act--usually. But they are true to the image lovers have of themselves; they are lovers as lovers fell themselves to be; in this sense, they are quite true to human experience. If the world was never so when it was young, people are so. The delineation of the psychology is truthful.
The characters do seem at times contrived because they are invested with the heightened sense of awareness of themselves and of others that is characteristic of love. So too the imagery and the diction of the poem seem artificial. Tasso accounts for this, in part, by having Love affirm, in the Prologue, that he will "sweeten the sounds upon their tongues." Yet despite the artifice and the rhetorical patterns, the poetry succeeds, and succeeds well because it overcomes the seeming artifice which lies beneath it. Tasso walks a narrow line between sentiment and absurdity, between sweetness and silliness, but the flowing poetry, the classical control, never allow his to slip. When Dafne praises the love of birds, beasts, and even trees, when Aminta imagines Silvia rejoicing at his tomb, tramping on his bones with her naughty feet, then we are moved to laughter, but we are not allowed to laugh, for the lines are beautiful; the images, if sweet, are crystalline; the words, if soft, are caught within the careful control of a rhetorical balance. Dafne explains to Silvia how Tirsi went through the forest, writing verses on the trees, "inducing the pity and at the same time the laughter of the charming nymphs and shepherds. Nor does what he wrote deserve laughter, even if what he did merited it." Our own reactions are bound in the same net of laughter and tears.
The tension between laughter and tears, between the absurdity of the lovers' actions and the beauty of the poetry, is mirrored on a more serious side in the moral tension of the Aminta. In the events themselves, nothing which is counter to proper morality actually happens. The closest Tasso come to license is the Satyr's near-rape of Silvia (reported by Tirsi). But Silvia is saved by Aminta. In the end, although the lovers have been brought together, they will wait for the permission of Montano, Silvia's father, before completing their bliss. Yet the attitude towards love which Tasso presents is disturbing. Aminta has gone to the love which Tasso presents is disturbing. Aminta has gone to the fountain--albeit doubtfully--which the same plan in mind as the Satyr. Natural love, as suggested in the chorus, does sound attractive, yet Dafne advocates taking force what is not synonymous with innocent love. The Golden Age is not a prelapsarian world. Yet at the time of writing the Aminta, Tasso was composing the Gerusalemme Liberata, and in the epic he proposes a moral system in every way opposed to the morality of the Aminta. Moreover, Tasso's constant revisions of the Gerusalemme are inspired at least as much by an honest and sincere desire to produce a sound moral poem as by his hope to stay on the right side of the Inquisition.
Thus, within the Aminta there are two aspects of love which should be reconciled: first, the conscious statement of the play, that love is natural and should be free, and second, the assumed moral context of the work, that only love sanctioned by God is licit or desirable. There are a number of possible ways of dealing with this problem. One might assume, for example, one or the other of the propositions to be Tasso's real feeling, and the wealth of letters, together with the neurotic complexity of the man himself, would allow a fairly convincing proof of either pint of view. In fact, this complexity would allow both possibilities at once, according to the myriad shiftings in the artist's mind. Sozzi offers a more attractive explanation by suggesting that the Aminta may be seen as the correlative dialectic to the Gerusalemme.11 Similarly, within the play itself, the differing types of love may be seen as dynamic opposites out of which synthesis is reached: a better love is forged from the essentially static and degenerative types--lust, self-denial, egotism, and so on--which are presented. As attractive as this possibility is to modern readers, and as well as it does seem to fit a play in which there is a great deal of tension, not only between moral systems, but between sentiment and sentimentality, laughter and tears, beauty and absurdity, such a system does not easily fit the religious and philosophical contexts of the drama. Perhaps too the burden of a complex philosophy is a heavy weight for an essentially lyrical work to bear.
Several other possible explanations are open which may account in part for the seemingly disparate moral propositions. First, I would reassert a point made earlier, that Tasso is exploring not what was or what should be, but what is, and what does exist in the world is a very human condition, a recognition of the passage of time and a desire to find an antidote in human terms to this rapid flight. That antidote is love.
A second, and equally attractive, possibility is that Tasso has not opposed natural love to sacred love, but to venal love. In this sense, natural love is comparatively a virtue. Moreover, in line with the courtly tradition of love, the Choruses to Act III and Act IV suggest a connection between earthly and divine love. All love is, after all, from God; love on earth may be a first step towards God. As Dafne points out, love is super-abundant in the world; to deny its force is, as she tells Silvia, to act unnaturally, to become worse than a beast. Not to bend to the power of love is to deny one's own nature.
The problems of unresolved moral issues should not, however, override the effect of the Aminta as a work of art, for in its artistry, rather than its philosophy, its worth lies. Likewise, the fact that Tasso meant certain of the characters in the drama to be identified with figures in the court at Ferrara is now only of passing historical interest. Batto is taken to be the poet Battista Guarini; Mopso to be the critic Sperone Speroni; Elpino to be the secretary to Alfonso II, Giovan Battista Pigna; Licori to be Lucrezia Bendidio, lady-in-waiting to Leonora d'Este and any early love of Tasso; and Tirsi to be Tasso himself. Except for the character of Tirsi, however, Tasso wisely confines his allegory of court life to the minor characters. The major figures, Dafne, Silvia, and Aminta, stand by themselves within the play.
Ultimately the art of Tasso's poetry combines the various elements of the play--the different traditions, the different sentiments, the different moral propositions--into a single unified whole. Yet the poetry is what is hardest to capture in a translation. My object here has been to remain as faithful to the text as might be consonant with a fidelity to certain poetic demands. The injunction of another translator of Italian poetry, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, that "a good poem shall not be turned into a bad one," has been my highest consideration.
The metrics of the Aminta pose an immediate problem. Tasso's basic line is the unrhymed hendecasyllabic, but he frequently alternates this with passages in settenari, seven syllable lines. The nearest English metrical equivalent would be a blank verse varied with sections in trimeter. Yet even this open form would be too ponderous and bulky a vehicle for Tasso's mollezze. the soft swiftness of his smoothly lyrical lines. I have attempted to retain something of this free-flowing quality by foregoing metrical regularity.
On the other hand, the rhetorical devices within the Aminta seem to me much more substantial ordering forces than the meter. At times elegant and complex, at times simple and straightforward, these devices indicate the characters' emotions and separate them from the mundane world. The rustic tongues have been touched by Love, and their complex emotions find voice and grace through rhetoric. I have, therefore, retained, wherever possible, the rhetorical figures Tasso employed.
Just as rhetorical devices serve to indicate the emotional movement of the drama, so too diction and imagery are important vehicles for expression. In the Aminta there is a steady tension between the characters of the simple and rustic shepherds and nymphs and the complex, lofty emotions Love compels them to express. Thus the level of diction varies markedly, from high to low, often in the same passage, and the images and figures shift from epic similes to evocations of simple rural scenes. While at times the speeches seem to lack tonal unity because of these shifts, I have retained the devices and attempted to follow closely the movements between styles which mirror the dynamic fluctuation in the emotions of the characters.
The emotional quality is what finally makes the Aminta far more accessible to the modern reader than Tasso's major work, the Gerusalemme Liberata. In the Gerusalemme, Tasso explores the epic theme of the triumph of Christianity; in the Aminta, he explores the much more human theme of the triumph of Love. Though the work is twice removed from us, by language and by time, the vibrant quality of the poetry and the psychological depth of the characters overcome the barriers Time erects between Tasso's world and our own.
1Bartolo Tommas Sozzi, Studi sul Tasso (Pisa: Nistri-Lischi, 1954), pp. 11-12. Tasso, like Tirsi, had just turned 29.
2Sozzi, Studi, pp. 12-13.
3Sozzi, Studi, pp. 14-15. The problem between Tasso and Manuzio was a question of the dedication.
4Sozzi discusses the different edition in Studi, pp. 24-31. Other editions in the 1580's were by Baldini (Ferrara, 1581 and 1582), Viotti (Parma, 1581), Osanna (Mantova, 1581), and Angelier (Paris, 1584). Discrepancies between the various editions generally concern the presence (or absence) of the Mopso episode in Act I, the choruses to Acts II, III, and IV, and the Epilogue.
5Sozzi, Studi, pp. 16-24.
6See Gioia Barzano, "le prime due traduzione inglesi dell' Aminta," Studi Tassiani, 5 (1955), 192. Fraunce's translation is discussed more fully in Ernst Koeppel, "Die Englischen Uebersetzungen des 16en Jahrhunderts," Anglia, 11 (1889).
7Walter W. Greg, Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama (1905, rpt. New York: Russell and Russell, 1959), p. 251. C. P. Brand discusses the influence of the Aminta on English literature in Torquato Tasso: A study of the Poet and of his contribution to English Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), pp. 277-308.
8Brand, p. 40.
9Brand, p. 41.
Sozzi, Studi, p. 283. My translation.
11Sozzi, Studi, pp. 284-285.
Love, dressed as a shepherd
LOVE: Who would believe within this human form
and underneath all this pastoral garb
there would be found a god? Not just a woodland
deity or rank plebeian sprite,
but one amidst celestials omnipotent!
Who often makes Mars' bloody sword
drop from his hand, while Neptune's mighty trident
rattles to earth, and even from highest Jove
the eternal lightning slips! Surely so dressed,
in guise like this, my mother, Venus,
would not recognize her son, Love.
From her I'm forced to flee, to hide from her,
and just because she believes I should
administer my talents with what is
for her good sense. And that vain, ambitious
woman would force me to the court, where I
should launch my darts, exert authority,
on members of the crowned and sceptered set;
and only to my humbler ministers,
my lesser priests, does she grant leave to dwell
amid the woods and ply their weaponry
in uncouth breasts. So I, in truth no child,
although I bear a youth's face and attire,
wish to entertain myself as suits my pleasure,
for to me, not her, were given my gifts,
the bow of gold and omnipotent torch.
Frequently, therefore, I flee and hide
from her imperious "No!" (for my vexatious
mother will have no other power over
me than her prayers) and I take to the woods
and rustic cottages. Meanwhile she pursues,
rewarding those who'd point me out to her
with kisses sweet--or other things more dear.
And, in exchange, my gifts to those who hide
me, or at least keep mute, are valued less,
my kisses sweet--or other things more dear.
But at least I know for sure my kiss
is always far more sweet to maids, if I,
Love, deliver it with love.
And so she often seeks me all in vain,
for most will not reveal me, but keep still.
And to conceal myself more secretly,
so she won't find me by my counter-signs,
I have disguised my quiver, wings, and bow.
That does not mean that I come here disarmed,
for this, which seems a crook, is actually
my torch, that I've transformed, topped by coils
of flame, invisible; and this my dart--
even missing its gold point, it is
divinely tempered and bears the imprimatur
of Love wherever it flies. Today with this
I plan to make a deep, untreatable wound
in the stubborn heart of the cruelest nymph
who ever followed in Diana's choir.
Nor will the wound of Silvia be less
(for so is named that Alpine Nymph) than that
which I once made within the gentle
heart of Aminta, now so many years ago
when he youthfully followed her youth
in the hunts and games. And that my thrust
might penetrate her to a greater depth,
I will await until her yielding pity
melts, in her frozen heart, the cruel ice
that yet protects her austere honesty
and arrogant virginity; and towards that point
in which he was more soft, I'll launch my dart.
And that I may perform my work at ease
I go to mix among the crowd of gay,
garlanded shepherds, and already I've
an envoy there among them who stays solemn
on this day of play, feigning to be part
of that happy crew. And in this place,
exactly in this place, I'll strike the blow,
though this will not be seen by mortal eyes.
This wood today is subject to Love's rule
as they will know in a new way. The god
himself will be present here,
not just his ministers, for I will
inspire noble thoughts in these rude hearts,
sweeten the sounds upon their tongues, because
wherever I am, I am Love, no less
among these shepherds than with nobility.
And inequalities of subjects to my rule
I balance as I please. And just in this
my highest glory, greatest miracle lies--
to make the rustic sampogne sound as well-
played as the finest instrument; and if my mother,
who frets to see me wander in the woods,
does not know this, then she is blind, not I,
who wrongfully by blind fools am called blind.
Dafne and Silvia, two shepherdesses
DAFNE: Silvia, will you go on
wasting your youth
shunning the pleasures of Venus?
Never to hear the sweet name "Mother"
nor to see playing about you
handsome young sons? Oh change,
change please! Take my advice,
you foolish maid!
SILVIA: Others follow love's delights--
some each delight that wanders by.
This life suits me. My one sport,
to hunt with bow and arrow,
to follow the fleet beasts, the savage,
mortal combat, and if I don't lack
arrows for my quiver or beasts in the woods,
don't think that I lack pleasure.
DAFNE: Truly insipid pleasures
and an insipid life; and if you find it gives you pleasure
it's just that you've tried nothing better.
Thus the first man, who still looked
upon the world in simple innocence,
thought acorns and water sweet food and drink.
Now acorns and water
are food and drink for animals
as we use grapes and grain instead.
Thus if just once you tasted
the thousandth part of joy's flavor,
that savor from a loving and beloved heart,
sighing repentently you'd say:
"Lost is all that time
I didn't spend in love!
Fled is my youth:
how many widowed nights,
how many lonely days
have I consumed in vain
that could have been spent in the way
which sweetens the more I repeat it!"
Change, I warn you, change
you foolish child:
late repentance brings no joy!
SILVIA: When I say, "I repent," sighing
these words you make up and embellish
as you please, the streams will return
to their sources, and wolves will flee
the lambs and the greyhounds the timid hares,
the bear will love the sea and the dolphin the Alps.
DAFNE: I know what it is to be foolish and shy;
what you are now, so once was I; thus I led
my life and changed it. So blond was my hair
and so red were my lips
and my cheeks, full and yet delicate,
so blent with color of the rose.
It was my greatest glory (now I advise you,
a fool's glory) just to set the snare
and bait it with bread, sharpen the dart
to a point, spy out the tracks
and lairs of beasts; and if at times
a desirous lover looked at me,
I turned away my rustic, woodland eyes,
crowded with disdain and shame. To me
my graces were disgraceful
and what others found pleasing, a displeasure. Just so
being looked at, loved, and desired, I regarded as
my "sin" and my "shame" and my "disgrace."
But what can time not do? And what could not
a faithful and importunate lover do
through serving, deserving, supplicating?
I was vanquished, I confess to you, and the arms
of the conqueror were humility, suffering,
weeping, sighing, begging for mercy.
Then in the shadow of one short night I was shown
what I had not seen in the long race
or the light of a thousand days;
then I rediscovered my proper place
and in blind simplicity I sighed and said,
"Here, Cynthia, is your horn, here's your bow,
your arrows, your way of life that I renounce."
Thus I hope to see your Aminta
one day may tame your
rough wilderness and melt
that heart of iron and stone.
Is he not your idea of beauty? Or doesn't he love you?
Or does he not love others? Or does he change
through love of others or through your hate?
Perhaps for the sake of courtesy he gives you up?
If you are the daughter of Cidippe,
child of the god of this noble stream,
he is the son of Silvano, himself the son
of Pan, mighty god of shepherds.
The pristine Amaryllis is not less
beautiful than you--if you have ever looked
within some fountain's mirror; yet he disdains
her sweet attractions and follows your
mettlesome scorn. Now pretend (and you should wish
to God that this imagining might be vain)
that he is angry with you; at last you gain
something to please her he likes so much.
How do you like that? With what eyes
will others view your enterprise? Happy deed
for another's arms, and you laughed at scornfully?
SILVIA: Let Aminta do with himself and his loves
whatever would please him; I don't care a bit.
So he is not mine, let him be whose he wishes;
he could not be mine if I did not wish it,
nor, were he mine, would I be his.
DAFNE: Where is your hate born?
SILVIA: From his love.
DAFNE: Gentle father of a wicked son!
When could the lamb
be born of the tiger? The beautiful swan bear the raven?
You deceive me, or yourself.
SILVIA: I hate the love
of him who hates my honor, love him
when he wishes of me what I wish.
DAFNE: You wish yourself the worst; he desires for you
what you really should most desire.
SILVIA: Dafne! Either keep quiet, or if you speak,
speak of something else.
DAFNE: Now observe this diversion!
Hear this spiteful maid!
At least tell me this: if another loved you,
would you welcome his love this way?
SILVIA: In this way I would welcome each
who would set traps for my virginity,
those you call lovers and I enemies.
DAFNE: Then do you see an enemy
in the ram for the ewe?
Or the bull for the cow?
Do you see enmity
between dove and faithful dove?
Then call the seasons
enemies and treasonous;
the sweet Spring
that now sings joy
to the world and beasts
and men and women. Don't you see
now caught in love,
a love full of joy, of health?
See how that dove
with a sweet murmur longs
to kiss his love?
You would hate that longing
hopping branch to branch
singing, "I love! I love!"? And, in case you didn't know,
the grass snake leaves its venomous pit and slithers
greedily to his love.
The tigers go in love,
the proud lion loves, and you alone, more beastly
than all beasts,
lodge denial in your heart.
Do I say lions and tigers and snakes
respond to love? Why even
trees love! Can you see with what passion,
what hugs and embraces,
the vines entwine their husbands?
Fir trees love firs, pines pines,
ashes for ashes, for willows, willows;
each beech burns and sighs for his mate!
The oak that seems
so coarse and crude
can feel and tell
the fires of love; and if you'd
any spirit and sense of love, you'd comprehend
their mute sighs. Now do you wish to be
less than the plants
by not being a lover?
Oh, I tell you, change, change,
you foolish child.
SILVIA: Well, when I hear
the sighs of the plants,
then I will be content to be a lover.
DAFNE: You take my faithful advice as a joke
and mock my reasoning--in love
you're no less deaf than foolish! But just go on,
a time will come that you will think
could not have followed. And of course I won't tell you
how you will flee the founts where now
you often look--and perhaps long--
that you'll flee the fountains
for fear of seeing yourself wrinkled and ugly,
though this is certainly true. But I won't tell you this,
for while it is a great ill,
it is yet a common one. Nor will I recount to you
the tale Elpino told the day before yesterday,
the sage Elpino to the beautiful Licori,
Licori, who overpowered Elpino with her eyes
with a power she should have felt in his song,
if duty in love were found here again;
a tale he told, while Batto and Tirsi,
Grand Masters of Love, listened. And he told
of the Cave of Aurora, where over the portal
is proclaimed: Hence, ah, go hence, ye profane.
He told of that and he told of what was told to him
by the Great One who sang of arms and love
and left to him the dying shepherd's pipe,
that down in the Inferno is a black cave
where fumes full of stench reek
from the gloomy furnaces of Acheronte
and that there ungrateful and thankless women
are eternally punished
in torments of darkness and tears.
There awaits that inn
prepared for your cruelty,
and it is truly proper that forever and ever
the fumes draw tears from your eyes
from whence pity
never could draw them.
Follow, follow your style,
obstinate child that you are.
SILVIA: But what did Licori do then? And what did she reply
to this thing?
DAFNE: You are so careless
of your own affairs, and you wish to know of others!
She responded with her eyes.
SILVIA: How only with her eyes?
DAFNE: She remarried this with a sweet smile,
and turned to Elpino: "My heart and I are yours,
desire no more; my heart could not
give more to you." And only this much would suffice
for a complete reward to the chaste lover;
if he had believed her eyes to be as true
as they were beautiful, he had given them complete faith.
SILVIA: And why did he not believe them?
DAFNE: Now do you not know
what Tirsi wrote? How he, frantic with desire,
rode through the forest
so that the charming nymphs and shepherds
were moved to both pity and laughter?
Nor does what he wrote deserve laughter,
even if what he did merited it.
He carved his lines in a thousand trees, and with the trees
the verses grew; and thus on one we read:
"Mirrors of the heart, false unfaithful lights,
In you I well recognize your deceits,
But what's the use? If I would avoid it, Love would prevent me."
SILVIA: While passing this time arguing,
I have forgotten that this is the prescribed day
I must go on the formal hunt
in the Eliceto. Now if you wish, wait
while first in the lonely fountain I remove
the sweat and dust from yesterday,
when, following the hunt, at last I caught
and killed a swift deer.
DAFNE: I'll wait for you
and perhaps I too will bathe in the fountain,
but first I wish to go home,
for it does not appear to be very late.
You should expect me to come to you,
and think in the meantime of just what is more important
than the chase and the fountain; and if you do not know,
you should realize that you do not know and put your trust in wisdom.
Aminta and Tirsi
AMINTA: I see that stones and waves
reply in pity to my tears.
To my tears I see
the waves sigh.
But I have never seen,
nor ever hope to see,
compassion in that cruel and beautiful girl
I never know whether to call Lady or Beast.
But she denies herself the name "Lady"
since she denies pity
to whom pity is not denied
by inanimate things.
TIRSI: Lambs feed on grass, wolves on lambs,
but cruel Love, he feeds on tears--
of tears he never seems to have his fill.
AMINTA: Oh, woe!
Love is now sated from my tears
and thirsts only for my blood, and soon
I trust he and this pitiless girl will drink
my blood with their eyes!
TIRSI: Oh, Aminta! Oh, Aminta!
What are you saying? Are you raving? Now rest assured
that another will be found if this cruel maid despises you.
AMINTA: Woe is me! How could I
find another if I cannot find myself?
If I've lost myself, what other gain
could ever make me happy?
TIRSI: Oh miserable one,
don't despair, for you will win her.
Maturity shows a man how to place
the bit on the lion and angry tiger.
AMINTA: But I cannot endure this long delay
until the death of misery.
TIRSI: It will be a short delay; in a brief space
angered, in a brief space pacified
is woman, a thing changeable in nature,
more than whistles in the wind and more than the tip
of a supple stalk of wheat. But, I pray you,
let me know more intimately of your
harsh condition and your love;
for, while you have confessed to me many times
that you love, yet you have been silent on where
the fixed place of your love is; and it is quite fitting
that, by my friendly fidelity and constant
study of the Muses, that which is hidden to others
should be unveiled to me.
AMINTA: I am content,
Tirsi, to tell you what
the woods, the mountains, and the rivers know, and men do not,
that I am now close to my death.
Thus let who will retell
the reason of my death and inscribe it
in the bark of a beech near the place
where my pale corpse will be laid in sepulchre.
And sometime in passing, that impious maid
might enjoy trampling with her haughty feet
on my unhappy bones. Among them she might say: "This is
just my triumph," and be pleased to see
her victory recorded for all
the simple peasants and pilgrims
drawn there by my death. And perhaps (Oh hope
too high to hope for!) one day she,
moved by a tardy pity,
might weep for the death of one whom, living, she has already killed,
saying, "Oh, that he were here and might be mine!"
Now just listen.
TIRSI: Go on and tell your story,
and perhaps I'll find a better end, one you've not considered.
AMINTA: I was a child; as one who strives
to gather the fruits from the bent branches
of the orchard by clasping with infant hands,
I came to know closely
the prettiest, dearest virgin
who ever spread her long, golden hair on the wind.
You know the daughter of Cidippe
and Montano, richest of herders?
Silvia, honor of the woods, every soul's ardor!
Of her I speak, Oh, alas! I lived, you see,
so close to her for some time that among
two turtle doves no more faithful mates
ever were or will be found.
Our dwellings were conjoined--
but more conjoined our hearts;
our ages close--
but our thoughts closer still.
With her I set the traps for the fish
and nets for the birds
and hunted the stags and quick deer;
and our pleasures and prey were shared.
But while I made prey of the beasts,
I was, I don't know how, preyed upon myself.
Little by little in my heart was born,
I don't know from what root,
as a plant that germinates by itself in the soil,
an unknown affection
which made me desire
to be always in the presence
of my beautiful Silvia;
and I drank from her light
a strange sweetness
that left in the end
and unknown bitterness.
I often sighed and did not know
the cause of the sighs.
This was the first love by which I understood
what kind of thing Love might be.
I discovered that at last, and so
now listen and take note.
TIRSI: I will attend.
AMINTA: In the shade of a beautiful beech, Silvia and Filli
were seated one day, and I together with them,
when an industrious bee
collecting honey from the lawn flowers
flew to Filli's cheek
and eagerly bit it and bit it again.
He was deceived by the similitude,
for he believed it a flower. Now Filli
began to cry, fretting
for the sharp pain of the sting,
but my beautiful Silvia said, "Hush, hush!
Don't cry, Filli, for
with enchanted words I will lift from you
the pain of the little wound.
The wise Arezia once taught
me this secret, and she had for reward
my horn of ivory wrought with gold."
So saying, she brought her lips
of her beautiful and sweetest mouth
to the sad cheek, and with soft
whispers murmured I don't know what verses.
Oh miraculous effect! Filli sensed at once
cessation of the pain; whether it was the virtue
of those magic words, or, as I believe,
the virtue of her lips
that heal with a touch!
Until this time I did not want other
than the sweet splendor of her beautiful eyes,
and dulcet words, much more sweet
than the murmur of a slow-running brook
that breaks its course among the tiny pebbles
or than the rustle of the wind through the leaves;
I now sensed a new desire in my heart
to bring my lips close to hers;
and in fact, I don't know how, more craftily and slyly
than usual (regard how much Love
sharpens the intellect!), helped
by a gentle deceit, I
was able to accomplish my desire.
Because, feigning that a bee had bit
my lower lip, I began
to lament in such a manner
that the remedy my words
did not request, my looks implored.
The simple Silvia,
pitying my pain,
offered to give aid
to the feigned wound, Oh woe! And made
more deadly and deep
my real wound
when her lips
touched my lips.
Bees in the flowers
could not gather so sweet a nectar
as the sweet honey I gathered
from those fresh roses.
Just as desire thrust
our ardent mouths to immerse themselves
and made our hands audacious,
so dread and shyness
refrained us from so doing.
But while this mixed sweetness
of secret worth
descended to my heart
it gave me such pleasure
that, feigning the pain
had not ceased,
she once again
repeated the charm.
From then onward desire and
impatient anguish grew,
until, knowing no more of my heart,
all my determination left me; and once
when nymphs and shepherds sat in a round
and played their game,
the one in which each whispers his secret
in his neighbor's ear,
"Silvia," I said to her, "I desire you and I will surely
die if you don't love me!" To which speech
she hid her beautiful face and a sudden,
unwonted blush rushed forth,
giving the sign of shame and anger;
I had no other reply than silence,
a troubled silence full of harsh
threats. After that she took herself away and wished
to see or hear me no more. And three times already
the barren mower has cut down the grain
and as often winter has shaken the green hair
from the trees and I have tried
everything to placate her except my death.
I pause, but in order to appease her I would die
and die willingly, if I had certainty
that she would feel pleasure or pity by it.
Nor do I know which of the two I would long for more.
Pity for my faith would be the best;
that would be greater recompense for my death.
But I do not wish to bring
trouble to the beautiful serene of light
of her dear eyes or to distress her beautiful heart.
TIRSI: Is it not possible, then, that one day
if she heard your words, she might love your?
AMINTA: I don't know and I don't think so; but she fled
my words as the asp an incantation.
TIRSI: Now have faith
that I have the strength to make her listen to you.
AMINTA: Your seeking would be in vain, or if you did gain permission
for me to speak to her, I would obtain nothing by speaking.
TIRSI: Why do you despair?
AMINTA: I have
just cause for my despair; the sage Mopso
forecast my cruel fate.
Mopso, who knows the language of the birds,
the virtues of the herbs and the fountain's words,
and recalls that which is already done,
observes the present and knows what's to come,
gave me a judgment infallibly true.
TIRSI: Of which Mopso do you speak? Of that Mopso
who has a language of honeyed words
and on his lips a fawning sneer
and fraud in his heart and a razor
kept under his cloak? Now chin up! Be of good cheer!
The false, unfaithful prognostications
he sold to dishearten you with his solemn
superciliousness shall have no more effect;
and to prove I know what I'm talking about,
rather than what he had predicted for you,
I rightly hope for a happy ending
to your love.
AMINTA: If you know for certain something
to comfort my hopes, don't keep it to yourself.
TIRSI: I'll tell you willingly. When first
I followed my fortune in this wood,
I knew that man, and my esteem for him
was like your regard. By and by, one day
I needed, and wanted, to go where
the Grand City sits on the banks of the river
and I asked him for his advice. And he
said to me: "You go into the wide world
where the sly and crafty city slickers
and wicked courtiers often
catch, cheat, and cruelly mock
us unwary peasants. Therefore, son,
go with this advice, and don't approach too near
to places they've hung with multi-colored and golden cloths
and wear new fangled plumes and uniforms and fashions.
But above all, watch that some evil fate
or youthful desire does not lead you to the Warehouse of
Idleness! Ah! Flee!
Flee those enchanted lodgings!"
"What place is that?" I asked. And he replied:
"Where dwell magicians whose enchantments
distort and deceive your vision.
Thus that seeming diamond and fine gold
is glass and copper; and those silver chests
that you would value as full of treasure
are baskets full of empty trash.
There the walls are artfully made
to speak and respond to speaking;
nor do they answer just brief words
as one's echo does in our woods,
but their reply is whole and complete,
even with additions of words you did not say.
The stools, the tables, the benches,
the chairs, bedsteads, curtains,
and all the trappings of the bedroom and hall
have language and voices and always cry out.
There the idlers dressed like babes
go intriguing; and if you should meet a mute,
a mute would chatter to your scorn.
But that is the least misfortune you could
encounter. There you might remain
turned to a beast, to flint, to water, to fire,
into water of tears or fire of sighs."
Thus spoke he, and with this false forecast
I went to the city.
And, by my lucky stars, by chance
I passed by where the Happy Inn is.
Then from within I heard sweet, melodious voices
as of swans and nymphs and sirens,
of heavenly sirens; and there issued forth sounds
soft and clear, and so many other delights,
that astonished, pleased, and delighted,
I stopped for a good bit. There stood at the door,
as if to guard these beautiful things,
a man of magnanimous and robust appearance,
of whom, for all his mien, I stood in doubt
if he was greater than a knight or duke,
who, with a forehead at once benign and grave,
with regal courtesy invited me in,
he grand and excellent, me ragged and lowly.
Oh what I felt! What I saw there! I saw
celestial goddesses, nimble and beautiful nymphs,
new Linis and Orfeis and still others
without veils, without mists, and some were dressed as
the virgin Aurora appeared to the immortals,
strewn with argent and aureate dew and beads,
illuminated richly all around.
I saw Febo and the Muses, and among the Muses
sat Elpino. And at that point
I felt I was made a better person,
full of new virtue, full of new
godliness, and I sang of war and heroes,
disdaining the crude pastoral poetry.
Although to please others I then
returned to these woods, I still retained
part of that spirit; nor indeed does
my sampogne sound humble as it used to,
but with a voice altered and more sonorous,
emulating trumpets, it fills the woods.
Mopso later heard me, and with malign,
marvelous aspect, bewitched me, whereupon I
became hoarse, and then for a long time I was silent.
The shepherds believed I had
seen a wolf--and the wolf was that man.
This I have told you so that you should know
how worthy of faith are that fellow's words.
And you should have good hopes if only because he wishes
that you hope for nothing.
AMINTA: It gives me pleasure to hear
all that you have told me. To you then I remit
the care of my life.
TIRSI: I will have a cure for it
as you yourself will discover here within the hour.
Oh beautiful Golden Age,
Not because rivers flowed
With milk and honey dripped from trees;
Not because in those days
Serpents lacked hate or Earth gave up unplowed
Her fruits with ease;
Not because dark clouds
Did not unfurl their veils,
But in eternal Spring
That now burns and fails,
Light smiled from Heaven's clear sky;
Nor because but rarely would ships supply
Wares or wars to foreign shores.
But just because that name
Without substance, vain
Idol of Errors, Idol of Deceits,
Called by insane
Hordes, "Honor," tyrant
Lord of our nature,
Had not mixed her
Anguish amidst the amiable sweets
Of that amorous crew;
And then but few
Of those free souls felt her cruel rule,
But lived by that Law, golden and gay,
That Nature sculpted: "What you wish, you may."
Then the Amoretti,
Without bows, without lamps,
Caroled sweetly among the flowers;
Shepherds and nymphs amid the bowers
Mixed with their words
Whispered endearments and to their whispers
Their lips clung in kisses;
The maidens, naked,
Unveiled their fresh roses,
While now the green, unripe
Apples of their breasts are kept from sight;
And oft in river or in lake
One saw them prettily make play with their loves.
You, Honor, you first veiled
The fountains of delight,
Denying those waves to the thirsting lovers;
You taught their eyes
To hide their lights
And to conceal their loveliness from others;
You gathered in a net
Their loose golden hair;
You made them shyly forget
Their loving gestures, so sweet, so fair;
Your trained their words to the steps of Art:
This work is all yours, Honor,
You stole that which was Love's.
In our pain and tears
Your deed appears,
You, Mistress of Love and Nature, were the cause,
You laid down the laws
That made these cloisters,
Not knowing what you did;
You trouble the sleep
Of the highest;
We who are base-born, abject,
Are troubled unless you let
Us live as the Ancients lived.
Let us love, for the years of life
Are long, the distance far, and yet there is no rest.
Let us love, for the Sun is reborn and shortly dies,
His brief light to us
Is hidden, and the eternal night of sleep draws nigh.
I am Proteus, able to transmute my appearance
And accustomed often to alter my shape;
I have found the art whereby a night scene
Changes its aspect; similarly Love
Transforms shy lovers in so many ways
As every poem and story tells.
In the serene night,
In the friendly silence and in the quaking reverence,
I am the Sacred Shepherd of the Sea
Who shows you this chorus and this display;
Let none come to interrupt it,
To disturb our games and songs.
SATYR: The bee is small, and yet by his small bite
he makes most deep and painful wounds;
but what could be smaller than Love
if in every little niche
he enters and hides himself? Now beneath the shadow
of the eyelid, now among the tiny ringlets
of blonde tresses, now within the dimples
that form a sweet smile in a lovely cheek--
and yet he makes such great and mortal
and thus untreatable wounds!
Oh woe! This heart of mine is full
of bloody wounds; and cruel Love
has a thousand darts in Silvia's eyes.
Cruel Love, Silvia more cruel and heartless
than the beasts. Oh how well your sylvan name
fits you, and how much he who gave it you foresaw.
Wild lions, bears, and snakes hide
within their verdure; and you within your fair breast
conceal hate, disdain, and impiety,
worse savages than snakes, lions, and bears,
for those may be appeased, but you can not
be placated by prayers or through gifts.
Alas! When I bring you fresh flowers,
you refuse them, somewhat forwardly, perhaps
because you have more beautiful flowers in your face.
Ah me! When I present lovely apples to you,
you refuse them, disdainfully, perhaps
because your breast bears a lovelier pair.
Alas! When I offer you sweet honey,
you despise it, scornfully, perhaps
because you have a honey more sweet in your lips.
But since my poverty could never give you
a thing which were not more beautiful and sweet in you,
I give you myself. Now why, Iniquity,
do you scorn and abhor that gift? I am not
to be despised, if indeed it was my own self I saw
the other day in the water of the sea
when the winds were silent and it lay without waves.
This my face of sanguine hue,
these my broad shoulders and these arms
bullish and muscular, and this hairy
chest, and these my velvety thighs
are signs of virility,
of robustness; and if you don't believe it, try me.
What do you see in these tender youths
whose cheeks scarce have
that soft flowery down? And who artfully
dress their hair?
They are women in semblance and in power.
Now say that someone were to follow you
through the woods and into the mountains, and were to meet bears
and wild boars and fight them for you?
No, I am not ugly; nor do you despise me
because I am so made, but only because
I am poor. Ah, that the country
should follow the example of the great city!
And this is truly the age of gold,
since only gold wins and gold reigns.
Oh, whoever you were who first
taught the selling of love, cursed be
your buried ashes and cold bones;
and never let there be found shepherds or nymphs
once to say to them in passing: "Rest in peace."
But let the rain bathe them and the wind shift them,
and let those raw bones be trampled on by the filthy feet
of pilgrims, for you who first disgraced
the nobility of love have embittered
her pleasures sweet. Venal love,
love the servant of gold is the greatest,
foulest, most abominable monster
created on earth or amid the sea's waves.
But why do I lament in vain? Each uses
those arms nature gave him
for his well-being: the stag employs his speed,
the lion his claws, and the slathering boar
his tusks, and the powers and the arms
of a lady are comeliness and beauty.
Why shouldn't I use violence
for my well-being, if I am by nature
so inclined to violence and to rape?
I'll rape her; I'll take by force what she
ungratefully denies me in merit of my love.
As I have just been told by a goatherd
who has observed her ways, she is often accustomed
to go refresh herself at a fountain--
and he has shown me the place. There my plot is
to hide myself within the bushes and shrubs
and wait till she comes, and when
I see my chance, run up behind her back.
With my speed and power,
what struggle could a delicate girl put up against me
by running or using her hands?
Even tears and sighs--let her use every effort
of beauty, of pity, for, if I can,
I will envelop this hand in her curls,
and afterwards she will not part before I stain
my revenging arms in her blood.
Dafne and Tirsi
DAFNE: Tirsi, as I told you, I knew
that Aminta loved Silvia; God knows how many
good offices I have done for them, and now that you add your share
of prayers, I am that much more willing to help them.
But I would rather lead off
and tame a bear, a tiger, a bull,
than tame a simple maid,
a girl as foolish as she is beautiful,
who does not yet know how hot and acute
are the arms of her beauty,
but kills others by laughter and tears,
and kills them not knowing that she strikes.
TIRSI: But where is such a simple girl
who, fresh from swaddling clothes, does not know
the art of appearing beautiful and pleasing,
of killing while pleasing and knowing
which arms strike and which kill, and which arms
heal and give back life!
DAFNE: Who is the master
of so many arts?
TIRSI: You dissemble and tempt me:
who teaches birds their song and flight,
fish to swim, butting rams to fight,
the bull to use his horns and informs
the peacock of the splendor of his eyed plumes?
DAFNE: What is the name of this Grand Master?
TIRSI: "Dafne" is her name.
DAFNE: Tongue of lies
TIRSI: And why? Are you not
fit to take a thousand girls to school?
Although to tell the truth, they do not need
teachers: nature is the teacher,
but motherliness and authority have their place there too.
DAFNE: In short, you are wholly wicked and inept.
Now, to tell you the truth, I am not resolved
that Silvia is as simple as she appears
by her words and her deeds. Yesterday I saw a sign
that gave me doubts about it. I found her
there near the city in those grand pastures
where a little island lies amid the pools;
she was leaning over a limpid and tranquil lake
in such a way she seemed to take
admiring glances at herself and at the same time
to ask counsel of the water in which way
she might arrange her hair upon her forehead,
and over her hair, her veil, and over the veil,
the flowers she held in her lap; and once and again
she held now a privet, now a rose,
and bringing them close to her beautiful white throat,
her rosy cheeks, compared
the colors; and then, so happy
in her victory, she flashed a smile
that seemed to say: "Truly I have vanquished even you;
nor do I wear you for my ornament,
but I carry you only for your shame
because one may see how much you yield to me."
But while she was adorning herself and gazing with admiration,
she turned her eyes by chance and realized
I was watching her. Blushing,
she quickly stood up and let the flowers fall.
Meanwhile, the more I smiled at her blush,
the more she reddened seeing that I laughed.
But because some of her curls were gathered
and the others disheveled, once or twice
she had recourse to consult the lake with her eyes,
and she gazed almost furtively, so afraid
I might be staring at her staring;
and she saw herself unkempt and delighted in herself
because she saw herself more beautiful than unkempt;
I realized that and was silent.
TIRSI: You have told me
exactly what I was thinking; now am I not a good guesser?
DAFNE: You guessed well. But I really hate to say it:
there never was a shepherdess or nymph
as discreet as she, nor was I
so in my youth. The world grows old,
and growing old, withers away
back then it was not the custom for city folk to go so often
into the woods or fields, nor were our country girls
so frequently accustomed
to go into the city. Now the families
and customs are mixed. But let us leave
these discourses apart; now can't you fix it that one day
Silvia will be content to hear Aminta's
reasoning, either while they are alone or in your presence?
DAFNE: I don't know. Silvia is unusually shy.
TIRSI: And he is unusually respectful.
DAFNE: A respectful lover is done for:
I'd even advise that he find another profession
if he is that way. Who would learn love
must unlearn respect; you should dare, ask,
solicit, importune, and finally carry her off;
and if that does not suffice, ravish her.
Now don't you know how woman is made?
She flees, and fleeing wants to be caught;
she denies, and denying wants to be carried off;
she fights, and fighting wishes to be vanquished.
Now Tirsi, I tell you this in confidence,
don't smile at what I have said, and, above all,
don't put it in rhyme. You know that I would know
how to give you back other than verses for your verses.
TIRSI: You have no cause to suspect I might ever say
anything contrary to your pleasure;
but, I pray you, my Dafne, for the sweet
memory of your fresh youth,
help me to help Aminta,
the poor wretch, who is dying.
DAFNE: Oh, such a gentle entreaty
this fool has found,
reminding me of my youth,
of pleasures past and present woes!
But what do you want me to do?
TIRSI: You need neither
my wisdom nor advice; it's enough
if you just arrange things as you wish.
DAFNE: Well, then listen:
Silvia and I soon must go
to the fountain named for Diana;
there, where the plane tree makes a sweet shade
on the sweet water, inviting the huntress nymphs to a cool seat,
there I know for certain she will bathe
her lovely, naked limbs.
TIRSI: But what then?
DAFNE: What then? If you are wise,
my expert, after a bit you will see that will suffice.
TIRSI: I understand; but I don't know if he will have enough courage.
DAFNE: If he won't go to her, let him stay and wait
for her to seek him.
TIRSI: He is one who really deserves it.
DAFNE: But don't we want to speak somewhat
about you yourself? Now then, Tirsi, don't you want
to fall in love? You are still young,
you have not yet quite reached your third decade;
indeed, I still recall when you were a youth.
Do you want a lazy, joyless life?
Only by loving does man know what delight may be.
TIRSI: The delights of Venus do not leave
the man who shuns love, but he collects and tastes
the sweetness of love without the bitterness.
DAFNE: That sweet unseasoned by some bitterness
is so insipid it quickly sates.
TIRSI: It is better to be sated than always to be
famished, during the meal and after it.
DAFNE: But not if it is your own food and it tastes
and pleases as you would always wish it to.
TIRSI: But who possesses that which pleases him,
that which is always ready for his hunger?
DAFNE: But who discovers the good if he does not seek it?
TIRSI: It is perilous to seek that which so pleases
when found, but torments so much more
when not discovered. Then Tirsi will no more be seen
a-loving, until Love in his reign
has plaints and sighs never more.
I have already had enough plaining and sighing,
let someone else now take his part.
DAFNE: But you have not yet
TIRSI: Nor do I desire
enjoyment, if one must buy it so dearly.
DAFNE: Love will use force, if you are not willing.
TIRSI: But he could not force one who stays far away.
DAFNE: But who is far away from Love?
TIRSI: Who fears him and flees.
DAFNE: And what use of fleeing from him who has wings?
TIRSI: Newborn Love has short wings. He can scarcely
hold them up, and does not spread them out to fly.
DAFNE: When he is born, men do not notice him,
and when they do take note, he grows grand and flies.
TIRSI: Not if one has seen him born once before.
DAFNE: We will see, Tirsi, if you will have the eyes to escape as you say.
I protest, after you become like the racer and the lynx,
when you do see him and call for help,
I will not say one word to help you, nor move
one step, one finger, one single eyelid.
TIRSI: Cruelty, will he give you the heart to see me dead?
If you really wish that I love, then love me; we shall make a pact of love.
DAFNE: You mock me, and perhaps
you do not merit a lover so made as I. Ah, how many
are deceived by a smooth and painted face.
TIRSI: No, I do not ridicule you; but you use this pretext
to reject my love; that is just the way
of all women. But, if you do not want me,
I will live without love.
DAFNE: Live more contentedly,
oh Tirsi, than you ever have; live in leisure,
and from leisure, love always grows.
TIRSI: Oh Dafne, I was made this idle by my god,
he one could at least think a god here, for whom
the vast herds and ample flocks are fed
from sea to sea and are joyfully gathered
from the most fecund countryside
and the mountainous ridges of the Apennines.
He told me, after making me:
"Tirsi, others hunt the wolves and thieves, and they guard
my walled sheep-folds; others mete out
rewards and punishments to my ministers; and others
feed and care for my flocks; others conserve
the wool and milk, and others dispense them;
you sing. Now then, be idle." Wherefore it is only right
that I do not joke of earthly love,
but sing the lives and truths of the forefathers
of him I do not know whether to call Apollo or Jove,
since in his face and deeds he resembles
what our forefathers deemed worthier of Saturn or Heaven.
A rustic muse for such regal merit; and indeed,
whether you play clearly or hoarsely, he does not despise it.
Of him, however, I do not sing, for I can not
worthily do him honor except by silent
reverence of him; but his altars
are never without my flowers or without
the soft fumes of aromatic incense;
and when this simple and devout
religion will leave my heart,
then the stags will feed on air in air,
and the rivers change their beds and courses,
the Saone shall flow in Persia, the Tigris through Gaul.
DAFNE: Oh, you go so high! Well then, descend a little
to our proposition.
TIRSI: The point is this,
that in going to the fountain with her, you
try to soften her; and I, meanwhile,
will get Aminta to come there;
and perhaps my task will not be less difficult
than yours. Now go to it.
DAFNE: I go,
but by "our proposition" I meant something else.
TIRSI: If I am not mistaken, from afar
Aminta is arisen over there. It is he himself.
Aminta and Tirsi
AMINTA: I wish to see what Tirsi has done,
and if nothing has been done,
before I shrink into nothing,
I mean to go and kill myself before the eyes
of that cruel girl.
She, who gives such pain
to the wound in my heart
struck by her beautiful eyes,
will surely have much pleasure
over the wound in my chest
struck by my own hand.
TIRSI: There is some news! I bring you comfort, Aminta;
from now on leave these grand lamentations.
AMINTA: Alas! What news? What do you bring me?
Is it life or death?
TIRSI: I bring life and health, if you will dare
to come face to face with them; but you must
make yourself a man, Aminta, a bold man.
AMINTA: What daring do I need, and against whom?
TIRSI: If your lady were in the middle of a wood
that, surrounded all about by the highest cliffs,
sheltered lions and tigers,
would you go there?
AMINTA: I would go there more boldly and surely
than the festive village girl goes to the dance.
TIRSI: And if she were among armed thieves,
would you go there?
AMINTA: I would go there more happily and quickly than the thirsty stag to the fountain.
TIRSI: One requires for a greater need a grander daring.
AMINTA: I would go through the middle of torrential rapids
when, swollen by melting snow, the rivers
rush to the sea; I would go through the middle
of the fires of hell, if she were there--
if a place that held her beauty could be called a "hell."
Now, then, tell me all.
AMINTA: Speak out!
TIRSI: Silvia awaits you at a fountain, naked and alone.
Do you dare to go there?
AMINTA: Oh, what are you telling me?
Silvia waits for me? Naked and alone?
except for Dafne being there, and she is for us.
AMINTA: Naked she waits for me?
TIRSI: Naked, but. . . .
AMINTA: Alas! But what? You're silent! You're killing me!
TIRSI: But she does not know you are coming.
AMINTA: A hard conclusion that poisons all
the sweets that have passed. Now with what arts,
cruel man, do you torment me?
Does my unhappiness seem
but small to you,
since you come to increase my misery?
TIRSI: If you act by my wisdom, you will be happy.
AMINTA: And what do you advise?
TIRSI: That you take that
which friendly fortune presents to you.
AMINTA: God forbid that I might ever act
in a way displeasing to her.
I never did a thing which displeased her,
outside of loving her, and that was forced on me,
forced by her beauty and not my fault.
Truly, in all that I might do
I will try to please her.
TIRSI: Now answer me this:
if it were in your power not to love her,
would you leave off loving her for her pleasure?
AMINTA: Love does not allow me to say
or even imagine ever having
to leave off loving her, even if I could.
TIRSI: Then to her despite you would love her
just as strongly as you lack the power of not loving her?
AMINTA: Not to her despite, no; but I would love her.
TIRSI: Then without her will?
AMINTA: Yes, certainly.
TIRSI: Why then do you not dare without her will
to take that which, although grievous at the start,
in the end will be dear and sweet to her,
that which you take from her?
AMINTA: Ah, Tirsi, Love responds
through me, for he says so much in the middle of my heart
I do not know how to retell it. You are so subtle,
really, through long custom of reasoning in love;
in me the words which bind
my heart are bound.
TIRSI: Then you do not wish to go?
AMINTA: I want to go,
but not where you think.
TIRSI: And where?
AMINTA: To die,
if you have not aided my cause by other than this
which you have told me.
TIRSI: Is what I have done but little?
Would you not think it foolish for Dafne ever
to counsel going if she had not seen
into a portion of Silvia's heart? And perhaps Silvia
does know and yet wishes that others not hear about
her self-knowledge. Now if you try
to gain express consent from her, do you not see you try for
that which would displease her more? Now then, where is
this desire of yours to please her?
And if she wishes your delight were
by theft or ravishment, and not her gift
or her mercy to your madness, what does one
mode matter more than another?
AMINTA: And who assures me
that her desire is such?
TIRSI: Oh, half-wit!
Here you ask for that certainty
sure to displease her, and that must make her sorry
directly, and you must not seek it.
But yet who assures you that it is not so?
Now if she felt so and you did not go there?
The doubt and the risk are equal. Ah, it is ever better
to die bravely than as a coward.
You are silent? You are beaten! Now confess
this loss of yours that will be the cause
of greater victory! Go for it!
AMINTA: Wait . . . .
TIRSI: What "wait"? Do you not know that time is fleeting?
AMINTA: Oh, let us first think if this might be done and how.
TIRSI: We will think on the road of what remains to be done,
but nothing is done by one who thinks too much.
Love, by what master or in what school
Were you taught the rules
Of the dark and obscure arts of love?
Who first explained
What our minds understand
While your wings carry you far above?
Surely not Athenian Scholastics,
Not in the Liceum was it practiced,
Nor Helicon's Phoebus
Who reasons of love
As there it is imbued:
His words are cold and few,
He lacks the voice of fire
That you require;
He does not lift your ideas
To equal your mysteries.
Love, disdainful master,
Only you may teach your nature,
Only you express yourself.
You teach the rustic
Talents to read
Those miraculous things
Written with amorous letters
By your same hand in others' eyes.
In beautiful, graceful speech,
You loosen the tongues of your faithful
And often, Oh strange and new
Eloquence of Love,
Often in one confused
Statement, one stammered word,
The heart is better heard
And shows more how it moves,
Than voices adorned and learned may say.
And again in silence Love is wont
To hear prayers and words.
Love, let others read
The Socratic papers,
While in two beautiful eyes I will apprehend this art,
And losing the rhyme
Of pens more wise,
My savage ones I'll carve
In coarse hand on coarse bark.
Holy Laws of Love and Nature,
Sacred snare that preordains
Faith so pure, such fair desire,
Stubborn knot and darling threads,
Softest yoke, delightful burden,
That makes the human company welcome
Through which two bodies serve one heart, one soul,
And by which they are ever joyous, friendly,
Till the bitter last parting;
Joy, comfort, and peace
Of the fleeting life,
Of the evil, sweet restorer and high forgetfulness;
Who more than you leads back to God?
Tirsi and Chorus
TIRSI: Oh most extreme cruelty! Oh ungrateful heart!
Oh ungrateful lady! Oh three and four times
most ungrateful sex!! And you, Nature,
negligent mistress, why did you make
only the faces and outer forms of ladies
so meek and kind and courteous and forget
all the other parts? Ah, miserable boy!
Perhaps he has killed himself--I don't see him anywhere.
I have searched high and low for three hours now
in the place where I left him and in the area round about,
nor have I found him or traces of his passing.
Ah, he has killed himself for sure. I will go
and ask for news from those shepherds I see over there.
Friends, have you seen Aminta or heard
news of him perhaps?
CHORUS: You seem to me
so troubled; why do you fret?
What is all this panting, all this sweat?
Have you become ill? Make it known to us.
TIRSI: I fear some evil for Aminta; have you seen him?
CHORUS: We have not seen him since he left with you
a good time ago; but what do you fear for him?
TIRSI: That he might have killed himself by his own hand.
CHORUS: Killed by his own hand? Now why so?
What do you believe to be the cause?
TIRSI: Love and hate.
CHORUS: Two potent enemies you join together;
what could they not do? But speak more plainly.
TIRSI: He loves a nymph too much and he is too much
hated by her.
CHORUS: Pray, tell it all.
This is the crossroad and perhaps
someone will come in the meantime bearing news of him.
Perhaps he himself might arrive.
TIRSI: I will tell it willingly for it is not right
that such strange ingratitude
should remain without due infamy.
Aminta was advised that Silvia would be
gone with Dafne to bathe at a fountain
(and alas, now that I think of it,
I was the one who told him and led him!).
There he was sent, doubtful and uncertain,
prompted not by his heart, but only by my
importunate instigations; and often he was
ready to turn back in doubt, and I impelled him before,
almost against his will. Now when
the fountain was then near, behold, we heard
the lamentations of a woman, and almost at the same time
we saw Dafne wringing her hands;
as she saw us, she raised her voice:
"Oh quick," she cried, "Silvia is forced!"
The lover, Aminta, hearing this,
leapt forward like a leopard, and I followed him.
Behold, we saw bound to a tree
the girl, naked as the day she was born,
and the rope that bound her was her hair.
This same hair was wrapped in a thousand knots
around the tree, and her lovely girdle,
previously custodian of her virginal loins,
was ministress to her rape, and bound
both her hands to the harsh trunk.
And the plant itself lent aid
in binding her, for pliable branches
were intertwined to form a net
to hold her legs. We saw her
face to face with a wicked satyr,
who was just now finished binding her.
She did what she could to defend herself,
but how much might she have done in the long run?
Aminta, with his dart held in his right hand,
hurled himself like a lion
at the satyr, and I, meanwhile, gathered
a lap full of stones, whereat the satyr fled.
As the flight of the other granted him
time to look about, Aminta turned
his loving eyes to those beautiful limbs
that trembled as the tender, white
curds of milk are wont to do.
And I saw all this light up his face.
Then slowly he approached her,
all modesty, saying: "Oh beautiful Silvia,
pardon this hand if too daring
is its nearness to your sweet limbs;
perforce necessity must endure it,
I must loosen these knots,
nor think ill of it that fortune
has wished on them this grace."
CHORUS: Words to melt a heart of stone.
But what did she then reply?
TIRSI: She said nothing,
but disdainful and ashamed, she bent
her head to the ground and writhed to hide
her delicate breast as much as she could.
He, standing before her, began to disentangle
her blonde hair and said meanwhile:
"So rough a trunk was surely not worthy
of such beautiful knots; now what advantage
do the servants of love have if they alike
with the trees are bound in precious snares?
Cruel tree, could you offend that beautiful hair
that gave you so much honor?"
Then with his hands he untied her hands
in such a way it appeared he feared
to touch them and at the same time desired to.
So too he knelt then to free her feet, but
as Silvia saw her hands were freed,
she said in a spiteful tone;
"Do not touch me, shepherd, I am Diana's.
I know how to loosen my feet by myself."
CHORUS: Now how much haughtiness is sheltered in the heart
of the nymph? Ah, gracious wages worthy of an ingrate!
TIRSI: He held himself reverently aloof,
not even lifting his eyes to look at her
in order to spare her the trouble of denying him.
I, who was hidden and saw all
and heard all, was now ready to scream.
I just held it back when I heard these strange things.
After much trouble she freed herself,
and freed from her pain, without saying "goodbye,"
she fled like a deer,
and she did not even have any reason to fear,
for Aminta's respect was obvious.
CHORUS: Why, then, did she flee?
TIRSI: Duty turned her
to flight, not the other's
CHORUS: And also in this is she ungrateful.
But what did the miserable one do now? What did he say?
TIRSI: I do not know, for I, full of ill will, ran
to catch her and stop her, but in vain,
for I lost her, and then returning to where
I left Aminta at the fountain, I did not find him.
But my heart presages something bad;
I know that he was disposed to die
before this happened.
CHORUS: It is the custom and the art
of each who loves to threaten death,
but seldom does the effect follow.
TIRSI: God grant that he might not be among those few.
CHORUS: No, it will not be so.
TIRSI: I will take myself to the grot
of the sage Elpino; if Aminta lives, perhaps
he will resort there where often he was wont
to sweeten his most bitter torments
by the sweet sounds of the clear pipes
that draw the stones from the high mountains to hear
and make the rivers run with pure milk
and honey drip from the rough barks.
Aminta, Dafne, and Nerina
AMINTA: Oh Dafne,
you truly had pitiless pity
when you stayed my dart;
my death, however,
will be as much more bitter as it is late.
And now why do you vainly lead me
through such diverse streets and through such varied
arguments? What do you fear?
That I might kill myself? You fear for my good.
DAFNE: No despair, Aminta,
for, if I know her well,
only Silvia's embarrassment, not cruelty,
moved her to fly.
AMINTA: Oh alas, let despair
by my health,
since hope has only
been my ruin; and yet, oh alas,
hope tries to germinate within my breast
solely because I live, and what is a greater ill
than the life of a miserable wretch such as I?
DAFNE: Live, miserable one, live
in your misery, and this state
endures only in order to become happiness,
whenever it might come. The reward of hope might be,
if you keep living and hoping,
that which you saw in her beautiful nakedness.
AMINTA: It did not seem enough to Love and to Fortune
that I was full of misery, unless I was shown the full extent
of what was denied me.
NERINA: Then I am fit to be the grim
bearer of most bitter news.
Oh Montano, now forever and always miserable,
what will be your state of mind when you hear
the harsh case of your only Silvia?
Old father, blind father, ah, father no more!
DAFNE: I hear a gloomy voice.
AMINTA: I hear the name
of Silvia striking my ears and heart.
But who is it that names her?
DAFNE: She is Nerina;
with such beautiful eyes and such lovely hands,
and ways so handsome and gracious,
she is a gentle nymph very dear to Cynthia.
NERINA: It is indeed better that he know of it and try to recover the unhappy relics,
if anything remains of her there. Ah, Silvia! Ah, your harsh,
AMINTA: Oh woe! What does this girl say?
NERINA: Oh Dafne!
DAFNE: What are you saying to yourself? Why do you name Silvia and then sigh?
NERINA: Ah! What reasons
I have to sigh over her case.
AMINTA: I hear, I hear
that which freezes my heart and closes on
my spirit. Is she alive?
DAFNE: Tell me fully the cruel misfortune you hint at.
NERINA: Oh God, why am I
the messenger? And just so, I must tell it.
Silvia came to my dwelling, naked--
and you might know the reason for that.
After she dressed again, she begged me to accompany her,
if I wished, in the hunt that was ordered
in the wood bearing the name of the Eliceto.
I complied with her. We went and found many nymphs gathered;
and shortly afterwards,
lo and behold, from where I do not know, a wolf leapt forth,
huge beyond measure, and from his lips
dripped a slather of blood.
Silvia fit an arrow to the string
of a bow I had given her and drew and hit him
on the top of his head; he entered the forest again,
and brandishing a dart, she followed him into the woods.
AMINTA: Oh highest grief! Alas, what end
is already announced to me?
NERINA: With another dart
I followed their tracks, but at some distance,
for I started far too late. As I went
deeper into the woods, I did not see them again;
but in the thickest, loneliest part of the forest
their tracks circled about and overlapped one another,
and there I found Silvia's dart in the ground
and not much further away the white veil
with which I myself had wrapped her hair; and as
I looked around, I saw seven wolves
licking the blood-covered ground
and a few bare bones scattered about.
Luckily I was not seen
by them, so intent were they at their meal;
thus, filled with fear and pity,
I turned back. And this is as much
as I can tell you of Silvia, and here is the veil.
AMINTA: Does it seem to you that you have said little? Oh veil!
Oh blood! Oh Silvia! You are dead!
DAFNE: Oh miserable one!
He is senseless from grief and perhaps dead!
NERINA: He just barely breathes. This might be
a short fainting spell. See, he comes to.
AMINTA: Grief, you so torment me,
why do you not now kill me? You are too, too slow!
Perhaps you leave that office to my hands?
I am, I am content
to take care it will be done
since you refuse to or can not.
Ah me! If I now need no more
proof of my loss,
and I need nothing more
to fulfill my misery,
what do I care? For what more do I wait? Oh Dafne! Oh Dafne!
For this bitter end you saved me,
for this bitter end!
Beautiful and sweet would death have been then
when I sought to kill myself.
You denied it to me, and the heavens, to whom it appeared
that by dying I might be forestalling the grief
that was prepared for me,
denied my dying in peace.
DAFNE: Stay your death
until you better understand the truth.
AMINTA: Oh me! What do you wish me to wait for?
Oh my, I have waited too long and heard too much.
NERINA: Oh, would that I had stayed mute.
AMINTA: Nymph, I pray you, give me
that veil which is
the sole and miserable remainder of her
so that it might accompany me
through this brief distance
that remains to me on the road of life,
and with its presence
I will increase that martyrdom
that is indeed a little martyrdom
if I need aid for my death.
NERINA: Must I give it or deny it?
The reason for which you ask it
means that I must deny it.
AMINTA: Cruel! So small a gift
you deny me at this extreme point?
And so too in this my fate
is shown to be malign. I give up, I give up,
keep it with you. And you stay here too,
for I go, never to return.
DAFNE: Aminta, wait! Listen!
Oh dear, he departs with such fury!
NERINA: He goes so quickly
that it would be vain to follow him; it is surely best for me to pursue my journey,
and perhaps it would be better
if I were to be silent and say nothing
to the miserable Montano.
No need for death,
For to wring two hearts
First faith sufficed and then love.
Nor is that which one looks for
So difficultly found
By one who follows Love well,
For love is merchandise and bought with love,
And searching for love one often finds
Immortal glory to lie close by.
We are divine, who in the eternal serenity
Among celestial sapphires and beautiful crystals
Where summer never is, nor winter,
Lead perpetual dances,
And now here below immortal grace
And high fortune are seen in this beautiful image
Of the theater of the world
Where among so many lights obscured by night
We make in a round a new dance
Both delightful and charming
To the clear harmony of another music.
Dafne, Silvia, and Chorus
DAFNE: An evil rumor had it in the wind
that you were parted from all your troubles,
both present and future. You are alive
and well, praise God; and just now
I was thinking you were dead; at least that is how
Nerina had pictured your fate.
Ah, had she been mute or the other deaf!
SILVIA: Certainly my danger was great, and she had
just cause for suspecting me dead.
DAFNE: But she had no just cause to report it.
Now tell me, what was the danger and how
did you escape it?
SILVIA: Following a wolf,
I went so far into the deepest woods
that I lost his tracks. Now while
I thought to back track to where he escaped me
I saw and recognized him by the arrow
I had shot fixed next to his ear.
I saw him and many other wolves around the corpse
of some fresh killed animal--
what kind, I could not distinguish. The wounded
wolf knew me, I think, and came
at me with his bloody mouth.
I boldly awaited him, brandishing a dart
in my right hand. You surely know if I may be called
Mistress of Striking and if throwing falsely was ever my way. Now when I saw him just
close enough that it seemed to me the right distance
for the stroke, I launched my dart, and in vain:
because, fortune's fault or my own,
instead of the wolf I got a tree. Then
more voraciously than ever he came towards me;
seeing him so near that I felt it vain
to use the bow, and not having other arms,
I had recourse to flight. I fled and he
did not hesitate to follow. Now listen to my story:
a veil that I had wrapped around my hair
partly unwrapped itself and spun off, fanning the air,
so that it got entangled in a branch. I sensed something
slowing and holding me, but did not know what it was.
For fear of death, I redoubled
my efforts to run, and the branch, on its part,
did not give up or let me go. Finally I freed myself
from the veil--and some of my hair as well
which I quickly left behind with the veil. And with so much
danger firing my fleeing feet with fear,
he did not catch me and I came out of the woods unscathed.
Then returning to my dwelling I met you
in such excitement; you amazed me by looking amazed
at my appearance.
DAFNE: Oh my! You live,
the other surely not.
SILVIA: What is this you say? Are you perhaps sorry
that I am alive? You hate me so much?
DAFNE: Your life pleases me, but I am sorry
for the other's death.
SILVIA: And whose death do you mean?
DAFNE: The death of Aminta.
SILVIA: Ah! How has he died?
DAFNE: I can not tell you the "how" or even that I know
if it has truly happened. But I believe it for a certainty.
SILVIA: What is this that you tell me? And to whom do you ascribe the cause of his death?
DAFNE: To your death.
SILVIA: I do not understand you.
DAFNE: The harsh news of your death
that he heard and believed
will have carried the wretched creature to the noose or iron
or some other means sufficient to kill him.
SILVIA: Your suspicions of his death will be
as vain as those of my death were;
everyone has the power to save his own life.
DAFNE: Oh Silvia, Silvia! You neither know nor think
how much the fires of love can do to a heart
if the heart is of flesh and not of stone
as that one of yours is; for if you had
believed it, you would have loved him who loved you
more than he loved the dear pupils of his own eyes,
more than the spirit of his life.
I well believe it; moreover, I have seen it and known it:
I saw it when you fled, oh you beast,
more cruel than the tiger, and just where
you should have embraced him, I saw him turn
a dart against himself, and though he failed
to penetrate his breast, it was not regret
for the deed that stopped him, for the dart ran through
his furs and clothes too and stained itself
in his blood; and the iron would have joined within
and passed through that heart that you passed over
more severely, if I had not held his arm
and prevented him from cutting himself open.
Oh alas! And perhaps that small wound
was only a test of his fury
and such desperation tried his constancy
and showed the way to the audacious iron
which now will run freely.
SILVIA: Oh, what do you tell me?
DAFNE: I saw him
after he heard the most bitter news
of your death, fainting with anguish,
and then he left in furious haste
to kill himself, and he shall have killed himself
SILVIA: And you firmly believe that?
DAFNE: I have no doubts.
SILVIA: Oh my! Did you not try to follow him
to stop him? Oh dear, let us go and seek him,
for, since he would die for my death,
my life will restore him to life.
DAFNE: I certainly did follow him, but he ran so fast
that he quickly disappeared before me, and then in vain
I looked all around for his footprints. Now where
do you wish to seek if you do not have any tracks?
SILVIA: He will die if we do not find him, oh alas!
And the homicide will be by his own hand.
DAFNE: Cruel lady, perhaps you regret that he will collect
the glory for this deed? Being then himself
the murderer you might wish to be? And does it not seem to you
that his harsh death must be the work
of none other than your hand? Now rejoice,
because, however he might die, he dies through you,
and you are the one who kills him.
SILVIA: Oh my, how you grieve me! And what sorrow
I feel for his embittered plight
with the bitter memory
of my cruelty
that I was calling honesty; and really it was such,
but it was too severe and rigorous.
Now I recognize it and repent.
DAFNE: Oh, what do I hear!
You are piteous? You feel in your heart
some spirit of pity? What is this I see?
You weep, proud lady? Oh marvelous!
What are these tears of yours? Tears of love?
SILVIA: Not yet tears of love, but of pity.
DAFNE: Pity is the messenger of Love
as lightning is of thunder.
CHORUS: Most frequently
when Love wishes to enter secretly
the virgin breast, where he was formerly excluded
by severe honesty, he takes on the habits,
takes the appearance of his minister
and his messenger, Pity. And with these shams,
this simple deception, he is welcomed within.
DAFNE: These are the tears of love because they are so abundant.
You are silent? You love, Silvia? You love, but in vain.
Oh potency of Love, you lack just chastisement
over that woman. Miserable Aminta!
Just as a bee that wounding, dies,
and in the wound leaves his own life,
you with your death have indeed stung to death
that rugged heart that never could be
stung while you were alive. Now if you, Errant Spirit,
of naked limbs, are, as I believe,
around here, regard her tears and enjoy them!
Lover in life, beloved in death: and if it was
just your fate that she might have loved you in your death,
and if you wished the love of this cruel girl,
you could buy it only with a price so very dear,
you gave that price that she requested,
and you bought her love with your death.
CHORUS: A price so dear to who gave it; to who received it,
a price useless and infamous.
SILVIA: Oh, could I
buy his life with my love,
even rather his life with mine if he is really dead!
DAFNE: Oh tardy wisdom and tardy
pity, when they relieve nothing.
Ergasto, Chorus, Silvia, and Dafne
ERGASTO: So full of pity, so full of horror
is my heart that everything
I hear or stare at, wherever I turn,
excites me, frightens me.
CHORUS: Now what news is brought by that fellow
who shows such trouble in his face and speech?
ERGASTO: I bear the bitter news
of the death of Aminta.
SILVIA: Oh my! What did you say?
ERGASTO: The most noble shepherd of these woods
who was so gentle and so charming,
so dear to the nymphs and to the Muses:
and the youth is dead! Oh that death!
CHORUS: Tell it all, I pray you, so that with you
we may weep for his misfortune and ours.
SILVIA: Oh dear, I do not dare
to approach to hear
that which I surely must hear! My impious heart,
my harsh, mountainous heart,
what, oh what do you fear?
You even stand up
to these sharp knives
that fellow bears in his tongue, and thus
show your fierceness.
Shepherd, I come to share
that sadness you promised the others;
because it is better suited to me
than you perhaps think, I must hear this
of necessity. Now do not be sparing
in telling me of him.
ERGASTO: Nymph, I truly believe you,
for I heard that wretch in his dying
finish his life
by calling your name.
DAFNE: Now begin at last
this sad story.
ERGASTO: I was half way up a hillside where I was stretching out
some of my snares, when, very close by,
I saw Aminta passing, much changed
from the usual in his face and attitude,
very anxious and gloomy. I jumped up and ran
after him to stop and join him; and he
said to me; "Ergasto, I wish that you would do me
a great favor: that is, that you come along
with me so someone might testify to my fate;
but first I wish from you a strict oath
on your faith to bind yourself to me
to stand aside and not raise a hand
to stop me from what I am about to do."
Who would have thought his condition so disturbed
or him so madly furious? As he turned
I made desperate conjurings, calling on
Pan and Palla and Priapo and Pomona
and nocturnal Ecate. Then he moved on
and led me to where the hill is steep
and where there is a wilderness of cliffs and crags,
not by any path, because there are no paths there.
Then we reached a precipice overlooking a valley.
Here he stopped us. Staring down,
I felt myself shake with terror and at once
I drew myself back; and he smiled
just a little bit and his face became serene--
whereupon that attitude horrified me the more.
Then he spoke to me thus: "Do recount
to the nymphs and shepherds that which you will see."
Then looking downwards, he said:
I wish that I
could have had for my purposes
the gorges and teeth of those greedy wolves
just as I have these cliffs.
I would like to die only as she
who made my life;
I would want these my miserable limbs
to be lacerated in the same way,
oh my, as those delicate limbs
of yours were before.
Since that can not be, and the heavens
deny my desire for
the voracious animals
(which will come soon enough) I wish to take
another path to death:
I will take that way
which will be, if not appropriate,
at least more quick.
Silvia, I follow you, I come
to keep you company,
if you will not disdain it.
And I would die contentedly
if I was at least certain
that my coming back to you
might not trouble you
and that your anger
were finished with your life.
Silvia, I follow you, I come!" Thus he spoke,
rushing to the heights with his head down;
and I remained frozen.
DAFNE: Miserable Aminta!
SILVIA: Oh my!
CHORUS: Why did you not stop him?
Perhaps you were held from detaining him
by the oath you swore?
ERGASTO: Not that, for, disdaining the oath,
vain, perhaps, in such a case
when I became aware of his madness and wicked
resolve, I reached out my hand
and, as his cruel fate directed,
took in it this band of silk
that was wrapped around him, which, not being able to sustain the impetus and weight of his body,
ripped off him and remained
torn in my hand.
CHORUS: And what became
of his unhappy body?
ERGASTO: I just can not say;
I was so full of horror and pity
that my heart did not give me leave to look at it
in order not to see him in pieces.
CHORUS: Oh strange case!
SILVIA: Oh my! I am surely made of stone
since this news does not kill me.
Oh! If the false death
of one who hated him so much
took away his life,
the true death
of him who loved me so much
would be good cause
to take away my life.
And I wish death to take me
if not with sorrow, at least with iron,
or indeed with this belt
that not without reason
does not follow the ruins
of its sweet lord,
but stayed only to take revenge
for his bitter end
against the impiety of my rigor.
Unhappy belt, belt
of a more unhappy master,
do not be sorry to stay
in such a hated dwelling
because you stay here only as the instrument
of revenge and of pain.
I surely could have been--should have been
for the unhappy Aminta
his companion in the world;
since now he does not return
I will be, through your work,
his companion in hell.
CHORUS: Console yourself, miserable one,
for this is fortune's fault and not your guilt.
SILVIA: Shepherd, for whom do you weep?
If you weep for my misery,
I do not merit pity,
for I did not know how to use it;
if you weep for the death
of the innocent wretch,
this is a little sign
for such a great cause. And you, Dafne, dry up
those tears of yours, for the sake of God!
If I am the reason for them,
I well wish you to pray
not for pity of me, but for pity
of one who was worthy of it,
and that you help me to search for
his unhappy limbs and bury them.
Only this restrains me
from killing myself right now:
I wish to pay this debt
(since I owe no other debts)
to the love he bore me.
And if indeed this impious
hand should contaminate
the piety of the work, even so,
I know that the work of my hand
will be dear to him
for I certainly know that he loved me
as I will show by dying.
DAFNE: I am willing to aid you in this office,
but do not begin to think
that afterwards you must die.
SILVIA: Up until now I lived to myself,
wounding myself; now that life still owing to me
I wish to live out for Aminta;
and, if it can not be for him,
I will live for his cold,
I wish to stay in the world
for so long and no longer, and then finish at one time
the obsequies and my life.
Shepherd, what path
leads us to the valley beneath the precipice
he went off to end his life?
ERGASTO: This path leads there,
and from here it is but a short way off.
DAFNE: Let us go; I will come with you and guide you,
for I know the place well.
SILVIA: Farewell, shepherds;
slopes, farewell; farewell, woods; and rivers, fare thee well.
ERGASTO: This girl speaks in a way which shows her disposition to a final parting.
That which Death loosens, Love ties again,
You the friend of peace, she of war;
And over her you triumph and reign,
And while you know and hold two lovely souls,
So you make it seem a Heaven on Earth
Because you flee not nor disdain here to dwell.
They are not angry up there; human deceits
You placate, and internal hate
You allay, Lord; to soothe their hearts
You allay a thousand furies;
And with heavenly valor you almost make
Mortal things run in eternal rounds.
Go, oh you sad lovers, oh joyful ladies,
Now is the time of placid quiet;
Go with silence, go with sleep,
While the night pours forth violets
And poppies and the sun flees.
And if your thoughts are not able to sleep,
Let there be amorous anxieties
For you in place of placid repose;
Nor does the dawn of moon regard your weeping.
The great Pan dismisses you; henceforward be silent,
Servant souls of Love, faithful and secret.
Elpino and Chorus
ELPINO: Truly the law with which Love
eternally governs his empire
is neither harsh nor false; and his works,
full of providence and mystery,
are wrongly condemned. Oh, with how many artifices
and through what unknown paths does he lead
man to be blessed; and he puts him
amid the joys of his amorous paradise
just when he most believes there to be nothing but ills in the end!
Look: precipitating, Aminta ascends
to the tip of the summit of every happiness!
Oh fortunate Aminta! Oh how much more happy
are you now than you were miserable before!
Now your example makes me hope
that some time that beautiful and impious maid
who conceals beneath her smile of pity
the mortal iron of her cruelty
will heal with her true pity the wounds
her feigned pity have made in my heart.
CHORUS: He who comes here is the same Elpino, and he speaks
of Aminta as if he were alive,
calling him happy and fortunate.
Harsh condition of lovers!
Perhaps he deems fortunate a lover
who dies and after death recovers pity
in the heart of his nymph, and this he calls
a "Paradise of Love" and this is what he hopes for.
What slight mercy contents the servants
of the winged god! Elpino, are you
in such a miserable state, then, that you call
the miserable death of the unhappy Aminta
fortunate? And would you wish to draw
a similar end?
ELPINO: Friends, be joyful,
because that rumor that reached you of his death
CHORUS: Oh, what are you telling us! Oh, how much
you relieve us! And is it not then the truth
that he threw himself down?
ELPINO: On the contrary, that is true enough;
but it was a fortunate fall, and down below
his sad image of death
brought him life and joy. He now lies
welcomed to the breast of his beloved nymph,
as pitying now as before she was pitiless;
and she dries the tears of his beautiful eyes
with her lips. I go to find
Montano, her father, and to lead him
over to where they are; and only his
permission is lacking and prolonging the wait
for the concord they both desire.
CHORUS: Their ages are equal, their gentleness is equal,
and concord their desire; and the good Montano
desires to have grandchildren to provide
such a sweet guard for his old age,
so that he will make of their will his.
But you, ah, Elpino, tell what god, what fate
might have saved Aminta
from that perilous fall.
ELPINO: I am willing. Listen,
hear that which with these eyes I have seen.
I was before my cave that lies
near the valley and almost at the foot of the hill
where the slope makes his lap;
there with Tirsi I was discoursing
of her who in the same net
wrapped up and tied first him and then me
and advocating my sweet servitude
over his flight and his free estate,
when a cry drew our eyes to a height
and all in an instant we saw
a ruined man stand on the summit
and plunge into a wood. The hill
a little above us was covered with trees
which almost made a cloth, a huge wrapper
closely knit out of thorns and other branches.
Then before he crashed into a lower place
he landed in the branches and indeed his weight
carried him through them and down
he fell at our feet, but that restraint
caught so much of the impetus of his fall
that he was not dead; he was, nevertheless,
in such a serious condition that he lay for an hour as if dead,
quite in a stupor and out cold.
We were struck dumb with pity and surprise
at the sudden spectacle.
We recognized him, but knowing
that he was not dead and that he was not,
perhaps, going to die, our anxieties were mitigated.
Then Tirsi gave me the whole story
of his secret and anguished love.
But while we tried to revive him
with different arts, having meanwhile
already sent to ask for Alfesibo
to whom Febo taught the medicinal arts
at that time when he gave to me the zither and the plectrum,
Dafne and Silvia arrived together,
who, as I understood, were seeking
that body which they believed deprived of life.
But as Silvia recognized him and saw
Aminta's beautiful cheeks
emptied of color in such a comely way,
as violets when they turn so sweetly
pale, and saw him languish
so that it appeared he exhaled his soul
in his last sighs, she, in the manner of a Baccante,
crying and striking her beautiful breast,
fell upon his supine corpse
and joined him face to face and lips to lips.
CHORUS: Now, then, did not modesty restrain
her who is too austere and shy?
ELPINO: Modesty restrains weak love,
but it is a weak bridle to powerful love.
Then, as if she had a fountain in her eyes,
she began to water his cold visage
with her tears; and it was by that water
of such virtue that he came to
and opening his eyes, a dolorous "alas"
pushed forth from within his breast.
But that "alas" that so painfully
passed from his heart
encountered the spirit
of his dear Silvia and was gathered
by her soft lips and then
he was immediately and wholly assuaged.
Now who could say how they felt at that point?
Or how they both stayed as each made sure
of the other's life, and Aminta made sure
of the love of his nymph?
And how he felt as he saw himself so closely conjoined with her?
Whoever is a servant of Love may figure it for himself,
but he could not figure it, not to retell it.
CHORUS: Is Aminta so well that he is beyond
risk to his life?
ELPINO: Aminta is healthy,
except for having some scratches on his face
and his body being somewhat broken;
but that will be nothing and he holds it for nothing.
He is happy that such a grand sign of love
has been given him, and he now tastes the sweets of love,
to which the past anguishes and perils
are made a soft and sweet condiment!
But, God keep you, for I wish to follow
my course and find Montano.
I do not know if the deep pain
That fellow has experienced serving, loving,
Weeping, and despairing,
Could fully be sweetened
By some present pleasure.
But if more dear comes
And after the bad one better tastes the good,
I do not ask you, Love,
For this greater beatitude.
Make others happy in such a way;
Let my nymph welcome me
After brief prayers and service brief;
And let the condiments
Of our sweetnesses
Not be such grave torments,
But soft disdain
And soft repulses,
Quarrels and battles which soon induce
Reintegrated hearts and peace, or truce.
VENUS: Excused from the third heaven,
I, who am queen and goddess,
seek my fugitive son, Love,
who, while seated
on my lap, joking,
either accidentally or on purpose
pierced my left side
with one of his golden arrows,
and then to avoid punishment
fled my attempts to catch him;
nor do I know where he may have turned.
I, who am indeed a mother,
and I am a tender mother,
changed my anger to pity;
I usually find him and I have used every art.
I have searched all my heavens from part to part,
the sphere of Mars and the other rotations,
both running and fixed,
nor is there any place
in the heavens above where he could conceal himself or hide.
So now among you, gentle mortals,
to where I know he often makes a sojourn
to gain from you news
of whether my fugitive son is to be found here below.
Nor yet do I hope to find him
among you, lovely ladies,
because, although around
your face and your long hair
he often jokes and flies,
and although he is often seated at
the doorway of pity
and asks you for shelter,
there is no one among you to give him
his desired refuge in her cruel heart
where only wounds and disdain are seated.
But indeed I hope to find him
among the courtly men
who do not disdain
to gather him in his abode;
and to you I turn, friendly group.
Tell me, where is my son?
Whoever among you that will teach me
I wish that for reward
from these lips he will take
a most sweet kiss.
But who conducts me to him
may expect another prize
of which there could not be greater
in my power to give you,
although you were given for a gift
all the kingdom of Love;
and by the Stygian Lake I swear
that I will truly serve this highest promise.
Tell me, where is my son?
But not anyone responds? Everyone is silent?
You have not seen him?
Perhaps he dwells here
among you unknown
and from his shoulders
he has plucked off his wings
and deposited his darts
and his quiver and bow too,
and changed and thrown by his other trappings.
But I will give you such signs
by which he could
easily be known
although he endeavors to hide himself from you.
Although he may be old
both in wisdom and in age,
he is so small that he seems to you a boy
in his face and his limbs,
and in the way of a boy
he is always roving and unsettled,
nor does it seem that he finds a place in who trusts him
and he takes delight
and amusement from various jokes,
but his joking is full
of peril and injury.
Easily he takes offense
and easily is he placated; and in his face
you see almost at the same time
the smile with the tears.
His hair is golden and curly
and in that way exactly
that fortune painted him
he has long and thick curls on his forehead,
but his head is bare
at the opposite limit.
The color of his face
is more vivacious than fire;
in his forehead he shows
an audacious lasciviousness;
his eyes are inflamed and full
of a wicked smile
often turned askance; and likewise under his eyes
he has almost the look of a thief,
nor do his lamps ever turn with a direct look.
It would seem that you part company
with a language made from milk
so sweet is his speech, and the dear words
are short and imperfectly formed.
His words are full
of flattery and of charms,
and his speeches are subtle and clear.
He often has a smile on his lips
and he hides deceits and frauds
beneath that smile
as a serpent within the tiny flowers and leaves.
At first he begins
all courteous and humble
in his semblance and his face;
as if a pilgrim, he asks for dwelling,
for mercy and grace;
but after he is gathered within,
little by little he is swollen with pride and makes himself
grand beyond measure;
and he wishes to hold
the keys to others' hearts;
he drives out
the old inhabitants and in their places
receives new people;
he makes the reason thrall
and gives rules to the mind
and becomes in the end a tyrant over the meek host
and pursues and conquers
who opposes and prohibits him.
Now that I have given you the signs
and the actions and the face
and the customs too,
if he dwells among you,
give me, I pray you, notice of my son.
But you do not respond?
Perhaps you wish to keep him hidden from me?
You wish, ah fools!
Ah madmen! To keep Love hidden?
But soon there will issue forth
from your tongues and eyes
a thousand sure and open indications
which, I tell you for a certainty,
will confirm to you what is often to become
of one who believes he can hide
the serpent in his senses,
who finally discovers him with screams and blood.
But since I do not find him here,
before returning to the heavens
I will go searching through other dwellings on earth.